I haven’t written in a while. Since November of last year to be exact. 2019….Wow. What a year. They say you can only know what others are feeling when you have gone through the same experiences yourself.
I was never one to have “anxiety” or “depression” growing up. The reality is that I actually didn’t know what those words really meant. I knew when I was feeling uneasy. I knew when I was feeling sad. I knew when I experienced worry, fear and insecurity, but I just thought those feelings were normal.
In 2019, I felt like I had experienced enough tragedies that my body and soul could possibly handle in one year. In April, 2019, my grandmother passed away at age 87. I had never had someone in my life as close to me pass away before. I think I had been to a whopping 4 total funerals in my whole life up until that point, and by September of last year, I had surpassed that number for the year alone.
For those of you who have experienced the loss of a loved one, you’ve probably found that it changes you. It changes those around you who were impacted also. You start to see a person’s true colors, including the colors of the loved one lost. You discover things about that person that you were unaware of. Secrets they kept. Pain they hid.
Some moments occured after her passing that I wish I hadn’t of heard, felt or seen. I experienced emotional pain and uncontrolled anger that I started to take out on others, and some that was taken out on me from other family members.
In addition to her death in 2019, I had to have a major surgery performed on my jaw that put me out of commission for months, causing great pain and facial changes. Although these changes were positive, it was so hard to look at myself in the mirror and see a different person. I cried the first time I saw my face after the surgery; of course my face was swollen to about the size of a watermelon then.
During recovery, I dropped about 20 lbs due to having to eat meals through a syringe while my mouth was banded shut for 6 weeks. I was happy about the weight loss because I had put on the extra weight intentially prior to surgery.
Then, the unexpected happened. Depression.
The big “D” word that I thought I would never deal with. I thought depression was only for those with mental illness. I wasn’t aware that it could happen to anyone, certainly not to me.
Thinking back, I had a lot to be sad about at the time, at least I thought I did. I had lost my grandmother, and because of which, I had cut ties with other family members. I wasn’t happy with my job at the time. I had undergone the biggest surgery of my life to date and experienced significant changes, positive or not.
I had no idea that “situational depression” existed. I had no idea that I could wake up sad every day and some days know why I was sad, but others days not know why. I had been through physical and emotional trauma without putting a label on it.
I experienced these feelings for about 4 months. Wallowing daily, thinking about the unknown. I had just turned 30 and thought that my life was over, because there were so many things that I had not accomplished by then. How ridiculous, right?
Then, one day, something just clicked. Like a light bulb that had been off for those 4 brutal months had finally been turned on, and the sunshine was starting to peep through. “What am I doing?”, I thought.
I decided to seek out “self help” from online motivational speakers. I watched videos daily of how to become “the greatest version of myself”. I started listening to podcasts, reading books and meditating more. I started a “gratefulness” journal to write in every morning. <<< This was big.
I realized that I am the only person in this world that can change how I am feeling. I am the only person who can change MY perspective in life. My location, my career, my surgeon, even my therapist could not do that for me. Only me.
Sometimes, it just takes the question in your mind of “What on earth am I doing?” to really motivate change. It takes the action of wiping your tears, getting up off of that couch, and taking the first few baby steps to moving forward.
I’ve found that positive self talk is also huge. Telling myself in my head and leaving notes for myself to see every day, that I AM ENOUGH. I AM STRONG. I AM BRAVE. I AM DRIVEN. I AM IN CONTROL OF MY DESTINY.
Life is all about reaction. Waves of doubt and struggle will come in your life at some point. They will come at you with full force and fury, but the waves will eventually crash. It is up to you to decide whether you are going to drown, or whether you are going to learn to surf.
On January 1st of 2020, I got this tattoo to remind myself of that. In the sea of life, there will be many waves. Even after you think the biggest one has crashed, there will be another following closely behind it.
How will you react? Will you allow yourself to drown in your misery, saying “woe is me”, or will you take that step to grab that surfboard and ride those waves?
You are brave. You are strong. YOU ARE ENOUGH.